Charging in Bojnurd, Iran

Invitation and setting up charging in Bojnurd

A TV station invited us to come to Bojnurd. They wanted to do an interview with us. That’s at least what we understood. Again, it all came a bit different.

About 7 boys at the age of 16 to 18 welcomed us at the hotel they booked for us. One of them was Mehran (who, with his neat briefcase, looked much older), our initial contact in Bojnourd. After a rest in the hotel the group of boys picked us up in the evening to bring us to a building complex where some of them lived. There was a 4-pin CEE-32 outlet in front in the house entrance of one of the houses (which was awesome!). We (and them) took pictures and left the car to charge. A pleasant walk through the city with the whole crowed followed.

An evening with a crowed of interested boys and a helpful girl

There was also one girl coming with us. She was supposed to keep me company (I guess they felt uncomfortable with me being the only female in the group or thought I would feel uncomfortable with boys only. But, probably contrary to them, I am used to this since I am little). We spent the afternoon walking around the city of Bojnurd and Benedikt arranged to get a haircut (which we deemed highly necessary, considering our upcoming border transits first to Turkmenistan and later to Uzbekistan — none of them is known to be easy and a good appearance might simplify things).

When the sun was setting, me and the girl returned to the houses, where the Tesla was waiting. A dinner to break the fast (everyone seemed to be strict Muslim, following Ramadan) with the neighbors was set up outside of the building (right behind the Tesla). It was a fun evening with the entire neighborhood community. Unfortunately, the charging of the car didn’t work out as expected. Probably the connection wasn’t strong enough for 32 amperes. The charging process stopped after only a few kWh charged. Since we didn’t want to make a big hassle, we charged the rest of the electricity that we needed at a Schuko in the parking garage of our hotel.

Visting an Iranian middle school and giving an “interview”

The next morning Mehran picked us up to bring us to his old school. We only noticed then that he just recently graduated from school and is doing the interview with us as a student project. Since he was really attached to his former school and teachers, we did the interview there. The school (only for boys) was nice, even though I couldn’t really get the concept of parting boys from girls. We were guided through the rooms and I felt a bit like Angelina Jolie, doing some charity work. Everyone wanted to show us something (like a tiny baby fetus in a glass in the science lab) and tell a story. I was surprised to hear that 30% of the lessons the boys have are religious class in that school. What an impact that must have on the little boys.

After the walk through the school, we had the interview with Mehran. We could feel the impact the religious lessons had on him… From his point of view, you can clearly see why a head scarf is great and necessary on women or that the fasting during Ramadan makes people commit less crime or lies. Mehran will have a fruitful journalist career in the state-controlled media.

Meeting Mohsen, initiator of the facebook group “Overland in Iran”

We know Iran as always offering us something of both extremes. It felt like almost no surprise that after having spent the morning Lost In Translation (and inbetween cultures), we met Mohsen for an evening tea in his home. He is curious about the world and travelers from different countries and, in order to meet even more travelers, initiated the facebook group “Overland in Iran” that I joined shortly after entering Iran. We had a wonderful and deep conversation with him and it felt like we found a friend in Bojnurd.



 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
4 poles CEE-32 230 3*32 amperes 22kW 20kWh
Schuko 220 6 amperes 2kW 40kWh

Charging in Tehran, Iran

Setting up a meeting in Tehran

The evening in Qom (see this post) Mohammad from Tehran wrote us an email that he really wants to meet us and see the Tesla. He is such a big Tesla fan and it would just mean to world to him to meet us. We didn’t mind fulfilling his wish, since we would pass Tehran anyways on our way up north. Although, after having shown the car to a countless amount of people, the excitement on our side has gone a bit. Since a meeting is usually most fruitful, if both sides fully enjoy it, Benedikt asked Mohammad, if he can provide us with three-phase electricity. That way we could charge the car and show it to him meanwhile. A fully-charged car would also allow us to go straight to the Elbrus mountains and camp outside (otherwise we would have needed to stay in a city one more night to charge the car at a hotel or somewhere else). After having spent 11 nights “indoors” we felt ready for a night in the car.

Charging in Tehran (once more)

Mohammad found three-phase electricity right next to his home. It was in a former factory that hasn’t been used for a long time. The outlets, unfortunately, were super old and we didn’t have the correct adapter. In Iran, we probably already charged more often with a self-fixed solution than with a proper outlet and adapters. We were happy to find a fuse-box in one of the buildings. Unfortunately, we couldn’t disconnect the fuses. That means, Benedikt had to attach our wires with the connection being under high voltage. That can be a bit dangerous… Benedikt calls it “an operation on the open heart”. Luckily everything went well and we started charging with 32 amperes on all phases!

The car was fully charged after about 2 hours (we spend the waiting time at Mohammad’s house). The only dangerous moment with everything being under voltage occurred when Benedikt was disconnecting our wires from the fuse box. While doing so, our neutral connection disconnected from its supposed connection unintentionally. If this neutral connection would have touched one of the phases, our NRGkick could have been ruined. As the NRGkick is still working, we were lucky, I guess.

In busy evening traffic, we left Teheran. In the valley before the PASS after that a decline towards the Caspian Sea starts, we found a quite spot to spend the night.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Connection to fuse-box  220 volt  3*32 amperes  22 kW  about 30

Charging in Teheran, Iran

At least Benedikt and I don’t really mind high elevations. It didn’t affect us to sleep at 3000-meter elevation in the Elbrus mountains between the Caspian Sea and Tehran (not to be mixed up with mount Elbrus in Russia ;-)). The mountains are impressive and once more, we enjoyed the loneliness and quietness of a camping night.

Press conference, video take and photo session in Tehran

We arrived in Tehran from the north. Our hotel was in the north of the city and we didn’t have to go through Tehran traffic for too long. Traffic in Tehran is crazy. There are too many cars and everyone seems to not stick to the street lines. This leads to cars blocking each other’s way and just being way to close to each other. Benedikt is actually managing that kind of traffic really calmly and good. For me it is already enough to be the Co-pilot 😉.

At the hotel, we met Tafazoli and Hosein, both working for an Iranian car magazine (asbe bokhar – horse power). We took wonderful pictures of the car with them and a video. On the second evening in Teheran, Tafazoli organized a meeting and press conference with BYD, a Chinese car manufacturer that is also producing electric vehicles (this article was published about the evening). Feeling the interest of so many people on our journey, our mission and our thoughts on EV is very special. Benedikt and I were overwhelmed with the kind and welcoming attitude towards us. It is very special to us to see pictures of our Tesla in a daily car magazine.

Tafazoli and his team got aware of us after a Instagram post of our charging experience in Zanjan by kish cars (see this post). Kish cars is followed by roughly 250.000 people. After Tafazoli and his team found out about us, they asked us, if we can meet in Tehran and take pictures/videos. It was a wonderful experience to do that and I am very glad we didn’t miss it.

Charging at the hotel

The hotel could offer us three-phase electricity. Charging the car right in front of the entrance door of a hotel is just so luxurious. We enjoyed staying in a good quality hotel and calming down from the adventures we had so far in Iran. Benedikt and I feel that sometimes it is just too much and we need less input from all sides. We should treat our selves more often with less action and more time to relax (and to write blog-posts 😉).

Charging in Jerevan, Armenia

Nici left early on Sunday morning after a fun evening with open-air cinema, film discussion and some drinks at Fabrica, a great place in Tbilisi. Benedikt and I charged the car one more time at the 22kW charging station in the city center of Tbilisi. The interest in the Tesla was very high this time. During the 20 minutes of charging the car, we were constantly surrounded by some men. If they weren’t looking at the different details of the car, they tried to buy our city scooter. We have two of those scooters with us. We want to use them for a fast and independent transportation in cities or during charging stops. So far, we didn’t use them a whole lot, because either the weather was too bad or the street quality too low. But this will change eventually, we believe 😉.


We escaped the crowed and left for the border between Georgia and Armenia. There was no line in front of the border, which was already a good sign. All in all, the border was easy. The only thing that took longer was to register the car to enter Armenia. We first didn’t know that we had to do this and as soon as we found out, the Swiss car documents (in German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic) didn’t make the filling out of the documents much faster.

What surprised us after the border crossing, were really bad maintained roads. The number of deep put-holes was extremely high. During the first third of the trip, from the border till Yerevan, our average speed was between 10 and 50 km/h. Luckily the road got better and better the closer we got to Yerevan.


In Yerevan, we could charge the car at a Schuko in the garage of a small hotel close to the city center. We planned to stay for two nights in Yerevan. Therefor charging with only 2kW was ok. After about 24 hours the battery of the car was charged at 85% again. By chance we found a supermarket including a big Armenian food-court on our way out of the city. The supermarket had a underground garage with many three-phase outlets`! Our Turkish adapter, worked with the outlets (which is kind of ironic, considering the relationship between Armenia and Turkey). We were very happy about this finding and charged the car with 11kW while we were having lunch in the food-court.

Yerevan isn’t a particular beautiful city or old city, since a lot of soviet architecture dominates the cityscape. Nevertheless, Benedikt and I were both inspired by the friendly and laid-back culture of the city. Compared to Tbilisi, Yerevan is less touristic, less crowded and somehow maybe even (mainstream) hipper.

Charging in Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi is a colorful city where it is fun to stay for a few days. We were lucky to find a nice Airbnb where it almost felt like home, being in Tbilisi. By chance we were in Georgia’s capital while there was a documentary film festival happening. Benedikt and I share with Nici an interest in good movies and film festivals. We enjoyed spending two very different evenings with great films and interesting discussions with the festival crowd of Tbilisi.

 Tbilisi felt very European to us. We enjoyed having the spirit of creativity, enthusiasm and young energy that was present in the city. It is not surprising that Tbilisi also offers a few charging stations (even though we did not see any other Electric Vehicle). We charged at one that was located at the central Europe Square. The 22kW charged our car to 90% while we were doing a free walking tour.

Looking back, Benedikt and I both thought, everything would be a bit more complicated than it actually was, at this point of the journey. Let’s see how our trip will continue and at what time the real tough challenges are starting (to be honest, the snow in Montenegro and the broken laptop were already good challenges).

Charging in Kutaissi, Georgia

The city of Kutaisi is known as the “second capital of Georgia” with the seat of the parliament. It must have been renovated in the last few years, because it’s charming little roads in the old town are inviting to saunter through them.

We “eexplored” all of this after we brought the Tesla to a charging station a bit outside of the old town at a gas station. It was the same gas station chain (Socar) that offered a charging station in Batumi (check out this post). This time charging 22 kW worked and it was as easy as one can only imagine. We plugged the cable in and it started charging right away. Positive surprises like this are so much appreciated! We returned about two hours later to a 100% charged car. I guess only EV-drivers know what a relieving feeling that is 😉.

With the fully charged car we drove to the Gelati Monestary. The old medieval monestary is impressive from the in- and outside. After that stop we continued to Borjomi, a small town in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.

Charging in Samsun, Turkey

After having two super relaxing nights in the Ilgaz Mountain Resort, we had to keep on going. With a battery charged at 100%, we left the hotel parking garage and started heading south-east towards the black sea. The plan was to make a road day, drive 300km until Samsun. Samsun is an industrial city and little to offer, even for only a stay overnight. Therefore, the plan was to continue later the day, after charging, to Ordu, a city about 150km east of Samsun.

From plugshare we knew that there should be a Renault car shop in Ordu, providing a Type 2 wall box. The car shop was easy to find and we were happy leaving the car after a 4-hour drive. A girl in the car shop showed us how to turn the wall box on (turn fuse on the box on). We plugged in and the Tesla started charging at 22kW. Plug and Play. That’s how we love it!

Benedikt and I used the charging break for a little stroll around the industrial quarter of Samsun. It is not particularly nice, but since the city is right at the black sea, we had a chance to just relax a bit watching the waves and the (dirty) water.

After about 1.5 hours we returned to a nicely charging car, even though in the end one phase broke away (again). We guess that this is more or less normal and left Samsun with about 90% fully charged.

Charging in Bolu, Turkey

After four days in Istanbul, we had to leave this wonderful city eventually. Our plan was to head towards south-east, to the mountains between Ankara and Samsun. There is a small national park where we thought staying and going for a hike could be nice. Since the distance between the national park and Istanbul is more than 500km, we were planning to charge the car at a charging station at a shopping mall, outside of Bolu.

Turkey has charging network named “Esarj”. This company behind the network is working on setting up more and more charging stations. It already has an interesting net of charging stations along the busy routes of Turkey. As mentioned before, Esarj has a charging station (with 22kW) in front of the shopping center of Bolu.

Like many charging systems, also esarj requires a sign up. Benedikt tried to do this for us. he did not succeed, since the sign-up process requires a Turkish identification number. Because we obviously do not have one, we arranged with Osman from Esarj that we get a charging-card anyways, we would call him when we are about to charge and he would unblock the charging station from the distance. This worked perfectly and thanks for the charge, Osman and esarj!

The only problem we had (and the problem recurred a few times after that in Turkey) that the charging station or the car lost at first one phase and later all of them before having finished the charging process. Our theory is that sometimes the electricity network is not very stable or too much traffic is only on one phase. If one phase is overused, the Tesla or NRG-Kick pulls themselves out and charging therefore slows down or stops. Luckily, every time it happened, we noticed it quickly and started the charging process again (this helped sometimes, sometimes not).

After we charged at Bolu the battery to about 85% we left for the Ilgaz Mountain National Park and arrived there later that evening at around 08:30 p.m.. The roads in Turkey are really good. That way it is not a problem to be driving at night.

Charging in Sofia, Bulgaria

Our laptop broke in Montenegro. We knew that there is a Lenovo Center in Sofia. Therefore, our first destination in Sofia was the mall, where a Lenovo store was located at. As we experienced it before, we found a nice 11kW electrical outlet in the garage and our car was charging, while we were trying to get our laptop repaired and while we had dinner.

The next day we were planning to drive towards the south-east of Bulgaria. To make the 200km to Vishovgrad, the village where our friends Julia and Miroslav live, we needed a bit more energy. Since the hotel that we found (at 11 p.m.) could not offer any electricity outlet, we charged the next day at a public charging station in front of an insurance company in downtown Sofia.

The tiny road was packed with cars when we arrived. An employee of the insurance company helped us by somehow making most of them leave. We charged 22kW for about 2 hours and left with almost 100% to the south-east of Bulgaria.

Charging in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegowina

Benedikt booked us a Hotel in Sarajevo that had good reviews, a parking lot and was big enough, so that we expected that they would have three-phase outlets. We arrived Sarajevo pretty low in battery (6-7%). At first the hotel offered us a three-phase outlet (it found it in the back of the building). Though, we did not have the right plug at that point of time.

Until we returned after the visit of some do-it-yourself-stores without having found the plug the hotel called the manager and owner of the hotel to find out that this person is scared of an electric vehicle taking too much electricity. Benedikt already started to improvise with the outlet (opening it to take out the phases and adjust them directly to our adapter), when some hotel person came up and told him to stop working. Even our offer to pay for electricity did not convince them. The Tesla had at that point of time about 4-5% of its battery left. I thought to myself, if this is, how every “electricity-search” is going to look like, the trip is not going to be fun.

One of the reasons why we were in Sarajevo was, that I really wanted to see the tunnel museum. It is a museum about the resistance of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war that is now 25 years ago. I read about it not long ago in the NZZ.  The museum was really interesting, but unfortunately it could not offer us any electricity.

Our last hope was the Marriott hotel in downtown Sarajevo that is offering a 22KW charging station to their guests. Hoping that they would also offer it to us, we drove to the hotel. For 12,50€ we could charge for 3 hours up to 95%. This was enough to make the journey to Kolasin, Montenegro the next day. Only after we parked our car at the Marriott hotel and started charging, we found out that the underground garage of the shopping center, that is only 500 meters from the Marriott, has plenty of 22KW three-phase outlets that we could have used for free… I guess the pretty low battery made us decide for the first best option.

That day realized that we made a few pretty bad beginner’s mistakes in Sarajevo:

  1. booking a hotel when depending on electricity to charge. One never knows if a hotel has a three-phase outlet available and if it wants to offer that to us. Having already booked a room minimizes the room to negotiate.
  2. not going right away for the hotel that offers charging. Even if the hotel is more expensive, the time and nerves one is saving with an easy-charge-solution is priceless.
  3. not searching in a large underground garage for electricity. We found so far in every large garage electricity (11 or 22KW). It is a shame, if one isn’t searching there for three-phase outlets as the first thing.

We left Sarajevo the next day almost fully charged and a bit smarter. Let’s hope it helps for the next “electricity-searches”.